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Fairfax Fire Linked to Pot Growing Operation - Friends Mourn Resident

Friends remember Alex Ivanov as a generous, outgoing guy who loved the outdoors, had a kind heart and was always up for an adventure.

Alexander Ivanov, 58, was “one of the good guys."

That's the word from friends of the late Fairfax resident, who is being remembered this week as the man who lost his life in a Nov. 30 fire at his home on Meadow Way in Cascade Canyon.

The Marin County Coroner's Office has yet to identify the charred body found in the ashes and debris of a fire that tore through the cabin where he lived at the end of a long dirt driveway. One friend said, "Word travels fast. He was one of the nicest guys you’d ever met. We’ve been sitting around telling Alex stories."

But that friend, who knew Ivanov for about 20 years, and sponsored his Sausalito Yacht Club membership several years ago, declined to be named in this story after Marin County Fire officials revealed this week that the likely cause of the fire was the diversion of electricity for a marijuana-growing operation on the property.

Marin County Fire Marshal Scott Alber said Tuesday that the fire was likely caused by an illegal power tap that was disturbed by the wind and the rain from last week's storms. The electricity was being diverted from the home to a small shed containing a number of marijuana plants and six 1,000-watt grow lamps.

Alber emphasized that the fire remains under investigation until his department receives more info from the coroner's office from its own investigation.

"We can't eliminate some other potential sources of the ignition, such as some kerosene heaters in the house or a wood-burning stove," Alber said.

The body found in the small cabin at 40 Meadow Way was burned beyond recognition, according to Marin County Sheriff Department Lt. Keith Boyd, spokesman for the coroner's division.

“In cases relating to fire and burning, identification is a very trying and time consuming process. It’s going to take some time,” Boyd said. "It could be days, it could be a few months."

Though Ivanov has yet to be identified as the person killed in the fire, many who knew him were mourning his loss. His mother, Katherine Ivanov, who recently passed away, is listed as the owner of 40 Meadow Way in county property records.

Ivanov lived in the cabin that was destroyed in the blaze for about 30 years, friends said. Ivanov was starting a new chapter of his life fixing it up, they said.

Ivanov was a black and white photographer who had a small darkroom at the Industrial Center Building in Sausalito, and ran a printing business. When artist Cindy Miracle moved into the ICB almost 20 years ago, she had a small studio next to Ivanov's darkroom.

"He was my first friend in the building," she said. "He used to let me store all my extra stuff in his space when I did my open studio."

Ivanov was also a member of the Marin Rod and Gun Club and worked in the still lab at Industrial Light & Magic creating books and catalogs, particularly for Star Wars. He also had a great love for the outdoors, friends said. 

Friends said Ivanov loved visiting the hot springs on the south side of Stinson Beach at low tide, or taking his kayak out to Red Rock. And they had many great times going fishing together.

Another friend, William Gargan, said Ivanov and a group of people used to go target shooting together.

“Alex was a very nice guy,” Gargan said. “A very kind, generous, unassuming guy; quite gregarious and fun to be with. We will miss him dearly.”

Ivanov is believed to have a sister, Raisa Snow, who lives in Southern California. Her name was also on the property record for 40 Meadow. Katherine Ivanov was living with Snow in the months before she passed away. Alex Ivanov was married but separated from his wife for about 10 years, and had no children, friends said. He was always doing something interesting, and was always up for an adventure.

"I don't think I have ever known anyone who could spread more positive joyous energy," Miracle said. "He will be sorely missed. The world needs more people like him."

Rico December 05, 2012 at 04:14 AM
Illegally diverted electricity ? That is a strong statement that should be determined by professionals before being broadcast in the media. A small shed (some say it was 4 ft. x 5 ft. could never need 6000 watts of light to grow a small number of plants for personal use with a medical grow permit. And, it is not illegal or called diverting when someone run swings a line from their house to a small outbuilding, it is called a branch circuit, and anybody with a brain would have over current protection on such a circuit. I don't know the facts, but neither does the media at this point, so, it is all speculation done by people who don't know what they they are talking about. It is very sad when someone loses their life, but what makes it much worse is to see a bunch of know nothings sensationalize this tragic event. I did not Know Alex, but I have friends who did, and I think the media should be more careful in reporting until all the facts are known. It could have been that the circuit feeding the shed was just a circuit off of the main panel in the cabin, and that Alex had a medical pot growers permit, nothing illegal. I think that the local media (especially the IJ) owes Alex's family and the entire world a huge apology for coming to conclusions without proven facts before a complete forensics investigation is completed.
Rico December 05, 2012 at 04:43 AM
Correction, nobody with a half a brain would run a branch circuit WITHOUT over current protection. There are far too many unknowns in this case. My feeling is that this fire was not caused by pot growing at all, probably more like the kerosene heaters in the cabin. I think that is unlikely that a wood stove caused this. Again, that is my proffessional opinion, the facts will be determined in the future. Alex, RIP.
Marion Krott - Ivanov December 05, 2012 at 07:35 AM
FIRST THANK YOU RICARDO CHARDUCCI FOR YOUR EXCELLENT COMMENT!! (AND I DONT EVEN KNOW YOU) I AM SO SO DISGUSTED BY THE MEDIA!! SENSATION SELLS HOW DARE YOU EDITOR AND WRITER TO WRITE THIS WHITHOUT GETTING THE REAL FACTS!! SO MANY FRIENDS ARE ABSOLUTELY DEVASTATED....YOU SHOULD ALL BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELFS!! THE CORONERS OFFICE IS STILL DOING MUCH NEEDED WORK!! SHAME ON ALL OF YOU JUST AS THE NEWS CHANNEL WHO WOULDNT STOP FILMING IN MY FACE WHEN I STOOD THERE HYSTERICAL AT THE SIDE WONDERING IF MY HUSBAND WAS REALY DEATH!! AND THEN BELIEVE ALEXANDER HAS A SISTER??? WHAT DO YOU MEAN BELIEVE?? WHY SNOOPING IN RECORDS OF PROPERTY?? AND TO MENTION HIS POOR MOTHER HOW DARE YOU ALL!! HIS POOR SISTER IS NOT ONLY GRIEVING ALEXANDERS MOTHER WHO PASSED ONLY 2 DAYS AGO YOU EVEN HAVE THE SEPARATION YEARS OF HIS MARRIAGE ALSO WRONG AS MANY OTHER THINGS I AM ENOUGH DEVASTATED AS IT IS THIS MAKES ME EVEN MORE SICKER TO MY STOMACH!! WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO PRIVACY AND RESPECT!! ALEXANDER IVANOV WAS ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING HUMAN BEINGS!! SO GET A CLUE WRITE WHEN YOU HAVE THE TOTAL FACTS CORRECT~~ AND GIVE THE SO MANY MANY UNBELIEVABLE HUNDREDS OF FRIENDS WHO KNEW ALEX IVANOV IN REAL LIFE WICH YOU WHO WROTE THIS DIDNT AT ALL!! SOME TIME TO GRIEF AND HEAL FROM THIS HORRIBLE DEVASTATING TRAGEDY!! AGAIN SHAME ON YOU ALL!! RICARDO IS RIGHT YOU ALL OWE HIS FRIENDS AND FAMILY A HUGE APOLOGY!! SINCERELY FROM A BROKEN HEART Marion Ivanov
Camilla Barry December 05, 2012 at 07:29 PM
I also re-read the paragraph about illegal electrical tapping several times, thinking the wording odd and incorrect. Possibly it was against code but that's a different matter. I wish peace for family members.
Kevin Moore December 05, 2012 at 08:32 PM
His family and friends can take some solace in the Marin communities overwhelming response of "who cares about the pot." Ricardo, thank you for the added information. If he did have a medical marijuana permit, the MarinIJ and Patch should amend the headline to "medical marijuana". You can submit a request for a correction. Even if he didn't have a permit, isn't it now "Unregistered Medical Marijuana Grow" in this era. This sounded like personal use or "mom & pop store" size, nothing like an "operation". If it was an electrical fire, it could have as easily been started by a refrigerator for brewing beer or Christmas lights. Maybe some good can be taken from this tragedy and we can all think before we overload outlets with Xmas lights. Maybe other lives will be saved. My condolences to family and friends, you have had a rough time. Alex sounds like a good guy.
Amyland December 05, 2012 at 09:00 PM
I really appreciate your comments Marion; I cannot imagine. And also thanks to R.C. for pointing out what should be obvious to a High School journalism class. Don't get me wrong: I enjoy reading The Patch but I view it as a "newsletter" of what's going on in my town and other than the Police Log, don't read hard news on here. That being said, any outlet recording the news must have an eye towards unbiased fact reporting--and did this come to my in-box as a "breaking news alert"???. . .I'm currently teaching my middle schoolers to not believe everything they read on the Internet; I can't even stomach the I.J., and maybe I will dis-allow the Patch delivery to my in-box and seek it out when I choose. The state of sensationalism in all areas of this country's news reporting is nauseating--good for you for not punching the camera-man in the middle of your hysterics, because I surely wouldn't have blamed you!!
Louis Pandolfi December 05, 2012 at 10:39 PM
Alex will be deeply missed; his always present smile and good nature, his love of his Mom and Sister, he love of nature, just a great human being who didn't deserve to have his life end so young. Alex' loss is a loss to all who knew him. It is so tragic. Our warmest love and prayers to his Sister Ria who lost her Brother and Mom in one week. Be strong our friend! They both loved you dearly.
valeri hood December 05, 2012 at 10:50 PM
I understand that the Fairfax Fire Department was not able to access the house in a timely fashion, due to a neighbors gate, which was locked, blocking access to the road. I would like to know if anyone has information on the accuracy of this?
Rico December 06, 2012 at 07:47 AM
It sounds like Alex was a very creative and well liked person. I know at least 3 people that knew him. A few days ago I was thinking about what do people expect from life on Earth, and what do most people do with their short life on earth. Alex was a very creative person who contributed in many ways to the world of art , and I think that is important. Myself, I have created some nice artwork, but never made it big in the art world, have had some beautiful relationships, and I am very happy with my lot in life. But, there are many people who are hung up in the corporate working world. Their whole life is all about chasing the all mighty dollar, and all that they think about is working for someone else. They will never really be happy by being a slave, and will never create anything beautiful, no matter how big their house is or how much money that they make. People get too hung up on reading BS in the media, and that includes internet media also. The old hippy motto of "rise above it" still holds true today. Be thankful if your are healthy, have freedom, are talented and productive, are well liked and care about your fellow human beings and leave something nice to be remembered after you are gone. What do you want from life ? Ruuuubber Bisquit ? and a baby's arm holding an apple !
Gary Sorkin December 06, 2012 at 11:27 PM
I really, really liked Alex - on many levels. He was always cheerful and we shared a precious value together - honesty. I miss him and the finality of death reverberates in my mind the loss I have, as I empathize and morn with all the others that knew him. Now for the shabby journalism of the IJ reporter, the unprofessional comments of the fire marshal, and the jumping to conclusions which encompass this tragic event into some trite "pot growing" case is totally unacceptable in the court of honesty and integrity. Shame on you for writing such unsubstantiated trash about a great man! But this is not the time nor place to get into the minutiae of details from such nauseating people. My prayer is, "Alex, Sasha, you are gone too soon from this world and for that this place is now hollow of your warmth, laughter, friendship and love. You were so generous with your gift of companionship and revealed the qualities of your namesake - Alexander the Great." As you walk through the valley of the shadow of death fear no evil, as your love on earth has laid for you a path of eternal memories of love of those you left behind. Nastarovia moi druuk." I share your loss, Marion. May peace be with you, and with Alex always Gary Sorkin (garysorkin@gmail.com)
tony masi December 07, 2012 at 02:56 AM
I also agree that the headline of this article is more befitting of hurtful backyard gossip and is (hopefully inadvertently) very inappropriate for a local news publication servicing a community where people are generally more concerned about the well-being of their fellow neighbors rather than reading about each others' private habits exposed and/or exaggerated for sensationalism. Speculation regarding faulty wiring for grow lamps is a part of the story of this sad and unfortunate accident, but it only consists of three redundant lines in this article. I mourn the fact that this headline will somehow define the demise of a man who was obviously more than just a marijuana grower. I did not know Alex, but I recall seeing his friendly face about town. And as more people comment on their affection for Alex and their feelings of loss over his passing, I find myself feeling more and more anger over how this article's leading headline so shamefully becomes Alex's last public epitaph. PS. Ricardo, my brain isn't what it used to be. Is the reference at the bottom of your previous comment from the Tubes, Frank Zappa, or both? It's pretty off the wall, just the same, even for me.
Julie Beach December 07, 2012 at 04:59 AM
I didn't know the man but when I read the story - I thought the reporting was completely unprofessional for 3 reasons: 1. A man is killed in a hellacious home accident-and then reporters cut straightaway to the small marijuana grow and the condition of the poor man's body when it was found. So not appropriate. 2. Blame the fire on the grow before fire offials issue their report-that's just making things up. The IJ owners and other officials must have been trained in the National Enquirer School of Jornalism. The only important thing is that the man lost his life in some kind of accident in his own home-how horrible ! Drawing attention to the small marijuanna grow and conjecture about how the fire started not to mention referencing the condition of the man's body when it was found --it's all part of the National Enquirer School of Journalism
Rico December 08, 2012 at 05:03 AM
If one reads the article, the small shed was totally intact that had the few pot plants, it was the cabin that burnt to the ground. So, the micro grow had nothing at all to do with this horrible story. I am still in shock about this, I do wonder how the authors of this article feel now, they must feel terrible about what they did, and if they have any kind of integrity or conscious, they should recant their story and apologize. The really sad thing is also, once the official reports are concluded, the media will never publicise them.
Bill McGee December 09, 2012 at 08:32 AM
If one ignores the main headline, the story reads about a tragic accident that happened to a well-loved man who was known in the community as a "generous, outgoing guy who loved the outdoors..." This Patch story had much more depth than the IJ, but both published quotes from the Fire Marshall in referencing the marijuana and the cause of the fire. I find no fault with either news story because the reporter directly quoted the Fire Marshall; however the headline writers erred when they wrote the "Fire Linked to Pot Growing Operation". According to the reporter, no positive link had been established. The IJ article also included the fact that the cause was under investigation but the IJ headline was also extremely misleading. It is my understanding that headlines are written by someone other than the reporter and the purpose is to attract the reader to the story. It is disturbing that so many headlines are inconsistent with the facts of the story filed. In this case the error was hurtful to the victim and his loved ones and friends. The reader should always try to set aside the headline and let the story stand on its own. This is difficult though when the headline is so prejudiced as was the case in both the IJ and the Patch.

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